Delhiites woke up to an unexpected but not unwelcome visitor on Sunday — the monsoon, a full 13 days ahead of schedule.
The rush wasn’t confined to the Capital alone. The rains covered Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and, in the process, the entire country — the first time in more than 50 years that this has happened in mid-June.
“This is the first time (since records started being kept) that the rains have covered the country so early. Before this, the earliest was on June 21, 1960,” said BP Yadav, director, India Meteorological Department.
The monsoon normally co­v­ers the country by July 15. Its date with Delhi is usually June 29 but this year, it was set to hit on June 22. It is expected to be at 101% of the long-term average in July and 96% in August.
The early rains spell good news on the economic front since two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income and 60% of farmed land has no irrigation.
The government also has reason to cheer as robust rains check inflation by increasing food output and availability and keeping a lid on prices — key factors in an important election year. It also means there would be enough grains to meet the requirements of the UPA’s proposed food security law, a key welfare plank and potential vote-catcher.
For the common man, the monsoon rain means a much-needed break from the heat. In Delhi, Palam saw 117 mm of rainfall till evening.
It brought the maximum temperature to a balmy 31.5ºC and sent people out of their homes to soak in the pleasant weather. More rain is expected on Monday and Tuesday.
The incessant shower also led to the usual problems — waterlogged roads and traffic jams. Water entered IGI airport’s Terminal 3, resulting in baggage belts being closed down and inconvenience to passengers. Many flights were delayed and a few diverted due to the rain. According to the Met, the heavy rainfall is due to an interaction between a low pressure system over Madhya Pradesh and a western disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir. "This has led to strong moisture conversion, which was at its highest today. Its effects will decrease slightly over the next three days and the moisture system will move towards Uttarakhand," said OP Sharma of the Regional Met Centre, Delhi.A bountiful monsoon would help India escape drought for a fourth straight year.